Intentional Community 3: redundancy

Outside of extreme circumstances (criminal behavior) you should have someone in your intentional community you anticipate having a lifelong relationship with.

This rattled the adults who lived in the Intentional Community where I grew up, Plow Creek Fellowship, when one of their members and leaders was found to have perpetrated sexual abuse of minors. This came out long after we had left, and even then my parents were upset (and wondered if their children had been abused — we hadn’t). Everyone expected that this man would be part of the Community for life, and this wasn’t a case where forgiveness was going to ever bring enough reconciliation that he could stay around. Some things just cut you off for life. It’s over. You don’t get a second chance, even if people forgive you, they can never breathe freely again. They should not be expected to try. I’m in favor of forgiveness, but reconciliation is a long, slow process, and the hope for complete restoration in this case is not realistic if not impossible.

So you have someone you trust. But just one someone is not enough. You need a web of relationships about which you’re intentional. Sooner or later there’s a good chance one of them will screw up. Perhaps not in a way as extreme as the example I cited (I sure hope not) but there are many other ways relationships disband. Sometimes you contract or agree for a certain length of time, and when the time’s up, one person is ready to move on. Sometimes you screw up (oh, yeah, that happens too) and the other person doesn’t give you any graciousness, and off they go.

Knowing which people you expect to share your life with for the sake of your own accountability, support, and encouragement is great. Having a decent set of expectations with each is also helpful. And having some friendships you anticipate keeping for life is important too. Mentors who are twenty years older may die — perhaps at a very inconvenient time. Having some people around your own age, and as you grow older having the humility to put some younger people in your web, are good ways to counteract the potential that we all have of losing our favorite guru, oracle, mentor, coach, trainer, etc. The whole thing is all about humility. Now, at age 41, my oldest client is 71, and I’ve been coaching him twice a month, almost a year. He loves it! There are not many left in the world who have more experience than he does, so he’s not coming to me for my experience. He’s coming for my expertise as an asker of curiosity-based questions.

Let people in your web be curious about you, and let them in. Even if one or two of them goes off the deep end, if you have a big enough web, you won’t regret letting people into your life. This is called redundancy. Businesses get it: have two computers in case one goes down. Painters have three cans of paint on hand when you need two, in case you spill one. Grocers have a generator on hand in case the power goes out and threatens to ruin your freezers full of meat. Leaders have redundancy in their web of intentional relationships.  This is the opposite of lean manufacturing. Taleb talks in his book Antifragile about how redundancy makes you antifragile. That is to say, when you experience small shocks, you are more than resilient, which means you don’t suffer damage, but instead you actually grow. Redundancy is a huge part of being antifragile, so if you want to grow when times get tough, this is incredibly important.


Published by


The author lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. He is self-employed as a leadership coach working with business executives, writers and other artists, and spiritual leaders. His clients enjoy business growth, increased vision and purpose, work/family lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer’s block.

6 thoughts on “Intentional Community 3: redundancy”

  1. Dad here : ” you have made several very excellent points , handling a very sensitive situation without being gratuitous . Keep up the good work !! and many blessings from the One who makes all things New .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. There’s been so much positive response I think I may write my next nonfiction book on the topic of Intentional Community. Keep watching for posts on this theme every Saturday!


  2. My wife and I lived with you and your parents at Plow Creek for a short time. I’m impressed with your insight and manner of expression. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s